Almost all of the companies that operate in the real estate sector in Angola are in a situation of technical bankruptcy, as a result of the market being at a standstill for over five years, said the president of the Association of Real Estate Professionals of Angola (APIMA).
Pedro Caldeira told Jornal de Angola that the lack of co-financing is the sector’s main problem, as a result of a stoppage in the real estate market and this has made it difficult for promoters to work because this is a segment that requires significant social contact.
Saying that the crisis has had a significant effect on the areas of sales and leases, he added that there are a number of problems, and mentioned a lack of funding for investment, reducing bureaucracy of the legal system for the real estate business, unattractive interest rates for consumer credit, inactivity of the National Housing Institute in relation to issuing licenses for the sector and the lack of a license to carry out the profession, among the most visible.
In an interview with the newspaper, Caldeira, noted he was unhappy with the current real estate market situation and accused banks of no longer financing the sector because they believe it is an area of increased risk.
He said that home loans are non-existent in the country at the moment, but that they could allow entrepreneurs to build low-rent housing.
He recalled that APIMA is a self-funded non-profit association and that it is not possible to conduct real estate business without funding. He added that the government can count on APIMA’s associates to outline strategies to leverage the private real estate sector and achieve the segment’s objectives.
Angolan state oil company Sonangol last Thursday in Luanda launched an international public tender for the sale of its stakes in nine companies, according to information published on its website.
Sonangol intends to sell 30% of its stake in Petromar, as well as 51% in companies Sonatide Marine Limited and Sonatide Marine Angola Limitada and 40% in Sonamet Industrial and Sonarcergy – Serviços e Construções Petrolíferas, Lda.
The sale of the stakes is part of the privatisation programme and also covers the sale of 10% of the share capital of shipyard company Porto Estaleiros Navais (Paenal), 33.33% of SBM Shipyard, 30% of Sonadiets Limitada and 30% of Sonadiets Services.
Sonangol requires that the parties provide qualification documents under the terms of the tender, as well as a provisional bond of between US$7,000 and US$15,000 or the equivalent in kwanzas, at the exchange rate of the National Bank of Angola.
The deadline to submit applications, in the case of Petromar, is 30 May of this year, with the presentation of the proposals scheduled for 23 July.
Applications for Sonatide Marine, Limited and Sonatide Marine Angola are scheduled for 15 May, and the submission of proposals for 15 June.
As part of the privatisation programme Sonangol has a total of 54 stakes to be sold in Angola and abroad.
In January Sonangol launched the public tender for the sale of stakes that it holds in six companies.
These are Atlântida Viagens Turismo, in Luanda, WTA Internacional, Atlântida Viagens Turismo, in Lisbon, WTA Travel Agency (Luanda), WTAn(Paris), WTA/Houston Express and ITSS- Internacional Travel Services and Systems.
All these companies are focused on travel and tourism and have headquarters in Angola, Portugal, the United States of America and France.
Angola’s National Bank (BNA) by September 2020 plans to announce the name of the company that will be responsible for the Mobile Transfers and Instant Messaging system to be introduced throughout the country, according to a request for information published on 26 April.
“As there is already a well-consolidated mobile telecommunications network in the Angolan market, the BNA intends to introduce a system of Mobile Transfers and Instant Messaging (STMI), which will be available in the entire country and accessible to the whole population, commonly known as Mobile Money,” said the central bank.
The opening of the requests for information is intended for drawing up a request for proposal (RFP) to select a technological operator for the entity that will be responsible for the technological management of the system, which will be a payment system operator based in Angola.
The payment system in Angola is currently based on the use of four payment tools (cheques, payment cards, credit transfers and direct debits) and is made up of four interbank subsystems, a system for payment of large sums and a securities settlement sub-system.
The interested entities must respond to the request for information from the BNA by 10 June 2020, the request for proposals will be launched on 24 June with a response deadline of 31 July. In August there will be on-site visits and demonstrations, and the final decision of the selection process is scheduled for September 2020.
With this request for information, the BNA intends to secure information on which to base its “selection of a solid and reputable company experienced in the management and operation” of this type of system.
Angola on Saturday confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across Africa.
The continent has been slower to feel the impact than Asia or Europe, and most of its reported cases have been foreigners or people who have returned from abroad.
But confirmed infections have started to accelerate, with more than 830 across Africa, according to a Reuters tally, and concerns are growing about its ability to handle a surge in cases without the depth of medical facilities available in more developed economies.
Angola’s first cases were two male Angolan residents who flew back from Portugal on March 17 and 18, Health minister Silvia Lutucuta told a briefing.
Zimbabwe reported its first case on Friday, and a second on Saturday, while the island of Mauritius, with 14 cases, reported its first death, a person who had travelled from Belgium via Dubai.
Many African countries have already shut borders, closed schools and universities and barred large public gatherings to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected over 250,000 people around the world and claimed more than 10,000 lives.
South Africa, which has the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed 38 news cases, taking its total to 240.
Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, confirmed 10 new cases including the first three in the capital Abuja, bringing its total to 22.
The Sovereign Fund of Angola has invested US$2.0 billion on a 4.8% stake in the Pensana Rare Earths mining company, which is involved in a rare earth project Longonjo, Huambo province, said the Australian company in a market statement.
“Pensana Rare Earths announces with satisfaction that it has raised more than US$2 million from the Sovereign Fund of Angola that manages a part of our investment portfolio, distributed among various sectors and asset classes, including the mining sector,” the statement issued in West Perth by the Australian mining company.
The statement said that the amount raised from what it calls “a strategic investor” will be used to carry out the definitive economic viability study of the Longonjo project, where in April 2019 rare earths were discovered.
In April 2019 a mineral prospecting project in the municipality of Sunyani, which lasted approximately two years, had identified 23 billion tonnes of metals known as rare earths.
The mining project, exploration of which was scheduled for this year, was conducted in partnership between the Empresa Nacional de Ferro de Angola (Ferrangol) and Australia’s Pensana, said the administrative director of Ozango Minerais (the company resulting from the partnership), Timothy George, who did not provide figures on the investment nor the value of the metals.
George, quoted by the Angop news agency, also said that the mine has a diameter of 2.5 kilometres and in the prospecting phase had more than 200 test holes from the surface to a depth of 35 metres, in a prospecting grid of 500/700 metres.
Banks operating in Angola are required to guarantee the capital invested by clients in complex financial products, “under any circumstances,” according to Notice no. 5/2020, of 28 February, published on Thursday by the National Bank of Angola.
The Notice lays down rules for the marketing of financial products sold by financial institutions, taking into account the need to protect consumers of those services, “given the development of the Angolan financial system and increased complexity of the financial products marketed,” such as dual deposits and indexed deposits.
The Notice also sets out that financial institutions should provide their customers with full information on these financial products before they are taken on, through a technical information sheet in a format defined by the Angolan central bank, and included as an appendix to the Notice, in order to allow customers to make informed decisions.
It is also set out the information to be provided to customers during the lifetime of deposits, as well as their frequency.
The central bank added in the statement that indexed deposits are bank deposits whose characteristics differ from a traditional savings account because its profitability is either fully or partly related to the performance of other instruments or relevant financial or economic variables, such as, for example, stocks or a basket of stocks, an index or a basket of share/commodity indices, the exchange rate for a given foreign currency against another currency, among others.
Dual deposits are financial products resulting from the combined sale of two or more bank deposits.
João Lourenço’s presidency has blown many previous truths about Angola out of the water.
Take predictions about his ability to tackle the hold on power of the former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who ran the country for 38 years. His children ran multiple businesses while also enjoying key appointments in the state. Despite numerous analyses claiming that he would continue to wield power (myself included), the fortunes of the family have in fact quickly fallen.
The former president is in unofficial exile in Spain, having controversially left on a commercial flight rather than through state channels. His second daughter Welwitschia lives abroad. She lost her parliamentary seat after failing to return to Angola.
The son, Filomeno, is on trial for his role in allegedly funnelling US$500 million out of the country. But it is the first daughter Isabel, until recently the international community’s favourite African female entrepreneur, who is now on the defensive. In December her Angolan assets were frozen. This was only the beginning of an international shift in attitude towards her wealth.
Recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its partners released a slew of articles and documents titled “LuandaLeaks” that detail Isabel dos Santos’s financial activities.
The reporting suggests she has been involved in extensive high-level corruption, allegedly using family connections and shell companies to gain business deals, and funnel millions of dollars out of the country.
The Dos Santos family and their supporters claim they are the objects of political persecution. They point to the comparative lack of action, for instance, against Lourenço’s allies.
While there is no doubt that there is a strategic political element to the focus on Dos Santos’s family, all anti-corruption campaigns must begin somewhere. In a context in which the former presidential family was the most prominent face of regime impunity, it seems like an obvious and necessary move to investigate them.
While Isabel dos Santos is the figure at the centre of LuandaLeaks, the story is more broadly about how corruption is a product of transnational collaboration and facilitation.
The documents show that the siphoning off of Angola’s money would not have been possible without some of the world’s largest management consulting companies. They ignored flags that banks had paid attention to regarding Isabel dos Santos’s status as a “politically exposed person”. In some cases they were involved in clear conflicts of interest.
Until late 2017, for instance, the global consulting firm PwC was the auditor and primary advisor to Angola’s state-owned Sonangol, the parastatal that oversees petroleum and natural gas production. The head of tax at PwC’s Portugal office has resigned in the wake of LuandaLeaks.
The leaks have also highlighted the global community’s dismissive attitude towards African journalists and activists, whose concerns about the Dos Santos family went relatively unheeded. For example, companies and embassies systematically ignored ongoing reports by Rafael Marques de Morais, one of Angola’s most prominent investigative journalists, about the Dos Santos family’s suspect business practices.
In 2015, the New York Times wrote a piece praising her husband Sindika Dokolo’s reclamation of stolen African art, without raising any questions about the source of his income.
These actions tell Africans that despite feigning concern about corruption and human rights, institutions outside of the continent don’t walk the talk.
How the new president has fared
The LuandaLeaks lend support to Lourenço’s anti-corruption drive. But the direction in which is he is taking the country remains difficult to assess. Are his anti-corruption measures and other interventions merely a tool to remove his enemies? Or, are they a sincere attempt to change the way in which politics has worked in Angola?
There are some clear signs of political and economic change.
Under Lourenço, the country has opened up. Visa regimes have become easier, Angola has joined the African Free Trade Zone, requirements that foreign investors have Angolan partners have been dropped, and the government is moving ahead with the privatisation of state-owned enterprises.
Equally important, Sonangol’s monopoly has been chipped away at with the recent creation of a new entity that will take over the role of national concessionaire in the oil industry.
That being said, the last time a slew of privatisations occurred in Angola was in the 1990s. These only served to buttress Dos Santos’ power by benefiting his favourites. Questions remain about the transparency of the new round of privatisation, and who the actual beneficiaries will be.
A major problem facing Lourenço is that many Angolans are unhappy with the austerity measures his government has introduced. And, public frustration with unemployment is fuelling instability.
Lourenço has also made no move to weaken the extremely centralised powers of the presidency. Such action, critics argue, would clearly show that he does not seek to replicate Dos Santos’s hold over the country.
Lourenço and others have cultivated a narrative that he faces significant opposition to change from entrenched interests within the governing party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). This is most likely true, but it remains unclear what it means for the country’s politics.
The MPLA has historically presented a united front to the outside, and open discussion of fragmentation and discord is new. These apparent splits indicate a need to better understand the party as a political player, something that many scholars and analysts have failed to do in a substantive way for decades.
Looking to the future
With Dos Santos gone, it remains unclear to analysts used to focusing on one central figure to explain the country’s direction just what the future portends as the country faces a new era of austerity and growing economic challenges.
LuandaLeaks provides further support for Lourenço’s anti-corruption drive. The state’s firmness in pursuing suspects heralds a moment of change for Angola. But, it remains unclear what future the country is heading towards.
Isabel dos Santos was brusquely removed from her job running the giant state oil company, Sonangol. Her half-brother received similar treatment at the state's sovereign wealth fund, and soon afterwards found himself in custody and is now on trial for allegedly trying to smuggle some $500m (£380m) out of the country . José Filomeno dos Santos has denied wrongdoing.
But JLo's moves to tackle corruption is now in danger of being overshadowed, and perhaps even derailed, by the second, key, part of his reform program - the economy.
Isabel dos Santos, 46, the daughter of Angola's long-running leader of 38 years, was mostly seen as untouchable in Luanda.
In fact, for most of her life, she represented both worlds.
She was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, during the Cold War era to a Russian mother and an Angolan father who would later become President.
She went to school in London, the centre of Western capitalism.
When she came back to Angola, her story goes, she begun from the grassroots, "sweeping the streets" of Luanda through her company, and later launched a popular restaurant known as Miami Beach.
She had made her money at 24.
But recently, the world has been treated to a trove of more than 715,000 documents showing a labyrinth of hundreds of companies around the world where money was reportedly laundered by Isabel.
Leaked documents showed how Ms dos Santos got access to lucrative land, oil, diamond and telecoms deals when her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was president.
New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the 'Luanda Leaks' fingered Isabel, for looting her own country and using firms around the world to clean her money.
Suddenly, leading media houses in the West and around the world were starting to question whether Isabel dos Santos was worth $2.2 billion or whether she was in deed the 75th most influential woman in the world as claimed by Forbes magazine.
So how did the Angolans see it?
First, it wasn't news. Rumours of looting by the former president's family and his ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had been a subject of hushed discussions throughout dos Santos' 38-year rule.
In 2008, local journalist Rafael Marques created a whistleblowing website Maka Angola, where volunteers helped build a strong narrative against the integrity of the dos Santos. Few outside Angola believed him.
"Inevitably, this is the end of one empire and the political end of one family that has caused harm to Angola and to its people due to their excessive greed," Marques told the Nation in a phone interview, hopeful that the world could help pressure her into submission.
Some activists in Angola, muzzled during dos Santos reign just like journalists, said she did not "eat alone", even though targeting her could create a better public perception for the government.
CORRUPTION IN ANGOLA
"Corruption in Angola is a general thing and involves the state circles and the MPLA circles," Mr Carlos Rosado, an Angolan journalist who worked with ICIJ on the project, told Novo Jornal newspaper.
"I am not one of those who would think there is a selective persecution. We had to start from somewhere and I understand that it starts from Isabel dos Santos. That is the most reported case now but the judicial authorities have to expand the investigation scope to other sectors and personalities," Rosado said.
Isabel was often unreachable and untouchable.
Hiding behind a father who was the head of state, she simply chose to sue for any perceived malicious reporting or use state organs to harass critics.
In the wake of the recent scandalising stories, however, she has been all over fighting back the accusations.
In an interview with the BBC, she claimed the trove of files were stolen papers to orchestrate "witch hunt" against her and her father.
In Angola, Isabel's assets include a 25 per cent stake in Unitel, one of the southern Africa state's two mobile phone networks, and a 25 per cent stake in Banco Internacional de Credito (Banco BIC), 51 per cent in BFA and 99.9 per cent in Zap Media.
Last month, prosecutors froze her bank accounts and assets along with her husband's (Sindika Dikolo) after a court ordered she repays the state some $75 million in dodged taxes.
She did not appear in court and the decision was made in her absentia.
But she fought back the move in the mainstream media and social media, describing the freezing as baseless political vendetta.
"This is an orchestrated and well-coordinated political attack, ahead of elections in Angola next year. It is an attempt to neutralise me and to discredit the legacy of President Dos Santos and his family," she argued.
"I am a private businesswoman who has spent 20 years building successful companies from the ground up, creating over 20,000 jobs and generating huge tax revenue for Angola. Last year my businesses paid over $100 million in tax."
Her fall from grace began shortly after her father left the seat in 2017.
His successor, João Lourenço, sacked her as chair of the state-owned oil firm Sonangol in 2018.
Angolan Attorney- General Hélder Pitta Grós says she laundered money, forged documents and committed other economic crimes and maladministration during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.
Alexandre Neto, a political analyst in Luanda, told the Nation that the decisive move by authorities was an opportunity to launch a new governance system in Angola.
Her dealings in Portugal and elsewhere suggest the network for corruption was beyond Angola.
"Ms Isabel dos Santos revelations show that there is an international corruption web that goes beyond investigations in Angola", Mr Domingos da Cruz, a lecturer at state-owned Agostinho Neto University and activist said after the documents showed she profited from Western auditing firms.
"It is not a surprise that western governments, and companies, participated in what is now being seen as corruption for Ms Isabel dos Santos, her family and friends, and members of the former government," Mr da Cruz said.
Locally, Angola's perennial corruption means anyone else in power could steal.
Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 released Thursday ranks Angola 146 out of 180 countries, just 19 positions better than it was in 2018.
In fact, the ruling MPLA is handling the matter cautiously. Its top officials refused to talk about it.
MPLA spokespeople refused to return calls by journalists.
And Mr Manuel da Cruz Neto, an MPLA legislator only said "I have no details about this and I don't comment on media cases".
Opposition MPs, however, say Luanda Leaks purge has to spread to other Angolan individuals who allegedly siphoned money from the state.
Mr Liberty Chiaka Angolan of the main opposition party Unita said there were local henchmen.
"It involves a lot of people. The corruption fight should not be done in a selective manner but broadly and this means employing deeper political changes," he said, lamenting how details of fraud were published by foreigners rather than the local Attorney-General's office.
Ahead of elections next year, Ms Dos Santos hinted she could run for President.
But she has been exiled since her father left the seat and the MPLA claimed only the party president becomes a presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, Ms Dos Santos has accused everyone publishing information from the leaked documents as either racist or part of a political witch-hunt to finish her.
Source: Daily Nation
Angola rose 19 places in the international ranking of countries that fight corruption, impunity and promote respect for human rights.
The information was provided on Thursday by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Francisco Queirós, in statements to the press.
He explained that, out of 180 countries evaluated by the International Transparency Organization in 2019, Angola went from 165 to 146.
The minister justified this position by the policies that the Angolan Government has been applying in the fight against corruption and impunity, as well as in the promotion of human rights, with positive effects.
He affirmed that the positive evaluation was due to the fact that many cases of corruption have been brought to court, without taking into account the recent developments linked to "Luanda Leaks".
He said he believed that the current policies will contribute to the recovery of the dignity and good name of Angola at the international level, as well as the rescue of the respect of the international community and Angolan society.
All of this will be important in terms of ethics and good practices, as well as in improving the business environment, in order to provide citizens with better living conditions.
Francisco Queirós considered that "the economy is improving profoundly because the Government's policy is correct and on track".
However, the minister acknowledged that there is still a long way to go in this process, but the steps taken in two years confirm that international organizations consider the policies implemented to be successful.
The minister ruled out the existence of baised persecution of certain individuals.
He reiterated that "whoever commits irregularities will be brought to justice".